Thursday, July 12, 2012

How to actualise your potential

Ideal time to commence actualising one's potential (i.e identifying and converting your invisible potential into a talent) is when a student is in 8th class.

At this age, the landscape is open and unlimited. At this age the slate is clean with no baggage and therefore  is open to take any view. At this age, a student has lots of energy and curiosity to question the established tradition and even take a course that is uncharted, if it is needed. But the student is unable to do so because he has several disempowering beliefs that prevent him in actualising his potential.

For example, a student assumes that the most important step in actualising one's potential is choosing the 'right ideal discipline' (science, commerce or arts) after 10th class. This notion is unrealistic and imaginary. Finding one's 'right ideal potential' is not practical because researchers have found that one cannot predict one's potential early in life.  Even sportsmen, who are forced to start early in life, do not show 'extraordinary potential' at an early age. On the contrary, they have a small difference of 'above-average' abilities visavis other students of comparable age.

However, what distinguishes the successful from the rest is the way they spot and capitalise on their unfolding potential ! Researchers have found out that potential unfolds over a long time. It is not a one-shot method. It is a long duration process. The student must therefore possess the necessary skills to watch this invisible process of unfolding of their potential and smartly utilise this understanding for their own benefit. 

Specifically, converting the unfolding potential into a talent requires three foundation skills to be built in a student at early age: ( If you fail to develop these three skills, three possible scenarios emerge. Also read about them)

Foundation skill 1. Regulate his/her Self:  Because future can never be predicted, this foundation skill will help a student to become adapt and flexible to the opportunities that come his way. By knowing the functioning of his emotions, stress points, and willpower, the student learns to regulate his Self ( not control his Self). He also understand his strengths and vulnerabilities. This provides a 'stable and confident mental state' that is necessary to guide one's actions amidst the various distractions. 

Foundation skill 2. Chose a potential area in academic area to focus: The second foundation skill required to actualise one's potential is the skill to chose a potential area to focus.  Most of the students possess an average IQ of about 110-130. Einstein had an IQ of 160. To use his available IQ tactfully, a student has to focus on few areas of strength to gain in-depth knowledge in few areas that is required later to sustain excellence later in the life. He has to utilise his academic life productively to gain the most from his long academic life. 

Foundation skill 3. Understand and exploit interdependence of skill markets, people, knowledge and domains to deepen his academic skill : Because the world is getting more and more interconnected, a student has to understand these interconnections to find opportunities ( or negotiate bottlenecks) to actualise his potential. For instance, by understanding these interconnections, a student can use interdependence of people to gain more knowledge of a specific subject, say a language like French, by joining learning community of 'French-learning' groups. Or use interconnections between domains to learn English language to develop his 'right brain' which is as useful as his 'left brain' that is being developed with the subjects like physics and maths. Or use interdependence of markets, to monetise his skill of 'teaching' through internet.

On the other hand, if a student fails to understand this chaotic interconnected environment, he suffers on both counts. Not only he misses the opportunities, but like a man who is unable to make sense of what is happening around him, he is paralysed into inaction and waits for others to guide him. We feel he lacks initiative; but what he lacks is the ability to make sense of this chaotic interconnected environment ! 

Once the foundation is properly built, a student will identify and realise his fullest potential even at a late age!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Seminar on Careers in Software Industry

First of the series on career-seminar was held in Nashik on the 'Careers in Software". Mr N.C. Gosavi, Training and Competency Head, Manufacturing Vertical, TCS and Sanjiv Bhamre, Career Designer at Nashik presented  views of software career.  While N.C.Gosavi presented the view of 'careers' from Industry point, Sanjiv Bhamre presented the view of careers from individual's angle.

From left to right : Vinayak Ranade, Sanjiv Bhamre, Vishwas Thakur and N.C. Gosavi

Many misunderstandings of software careers were clarified in this seminar. For instance, Software career is not just one career: Career of developer. There is also a career of 'Enterprise and Industry Expert' who works with Ready made Package products like SAP, or Qualcom in Telecom, or Banking softwares. There is also career of 'Tester' and 'Engineering and Industrial Solutions' engineer as well as high end BPO career in knowledge based services like Legal ( where LLB and LLM graduates work) as well as  Analytics ( where CAs work).

Some of the notable characteristics of software careers identified in the seminar were as follows: 

Pros (positive points) about Software careers

  • Software careers are both in customer facing functions ( where extroverts thrive) as well in internal facing functions ( where introverts are more likely to succeed). Luckily software companies also have jobs which are a mixture of customer facing and internal facing function.
  • Unlike in other industries, but similar to music and sports, career growth in Software industry is both vertical ( up the hierarchy) and horizontal ( across functions and technologies)
  • Like in the field of acting and cooking, Developers in this industry do not need any professional qualification.
  • Software career can be initiated at the young age of 22 as well as after the age 30. I know professionals shifting to Software at the age of 45. 
  • In Software, careers can be done part time as well as from home. This flexibility is very useful for girls.
  • Because software careers have various options, even after joining a software company, one has to be keep eyes and ears open to search for the 'Next Direction'. Joining a software company is not the end act.
Cons (negative points) about Software careers 
  • Software career is a one way entry: Many students join a software company because software jobs are easy to get. However, it is very very difficult to shift the career back to one's domain after joining software( say from software to electronics or accountancy)  if one does not like software job. Due to this difficulty, students with some interest in their domain ( be it mechanical, civil, electronics or domain) should never join software company in their first job. 
  • Software careers are very stressful for two reasons. Working hours are too long. One has to work after 11 pm because US client day starts at that time. Secondly, because of the desk bound nature of the job, the stress accumulates in the body constantly.
  • Software careers demand constant learning and upgradation of knowledge. There is no plateau. One cannot stop one's learning. 
More importantly, many careers will continue to be discovered as software is spreading to more and more functions. For instance, careers in retail shopping, or careers in tourism, or careers in training and teaching can be done from any town in India today without a help of big software company. Today one can find an Indian teacher in Nashik teaching mathematics to a child in Chicago if he can use software expertly. Or an tour operator organising tours of US sitting in Nashik. Or an astrologer catering to international clients. As software impacts various day to day activities of a common man, familiarity and mastery of software has become a must for everyone.